New York. New rules.
Scream VI is a 2023 slasher film directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, written by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, produced by Spyglass Media Group, Project X Entertainment, and Radio Silence Productions, and distributed by Paramount Pictures. The film stars Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega. This is the sixth film in the Scream franchise. It was preceded by Scream.
"I'm something...different." - Ghostface
After leaving Woodsboro and heading to New York City, sisters Sam and Tara Carpenter begin a long recovery process to move on from the Ghostface killings. However, that process is stopped dead in its tracks when a new killer emerges, this time even more unforgiving and savage than the ones before.
Scream VI continues the streak of horror's most consistent franchise.
I think Scream VI is the scariest and darkest of the Scream films, and I really liked that. Scream has always been tamer horror, but this movie felt like it truly went into some dark, violent places that the franchise hasn't necessarily gone to before. It is, by far, the bloodiest of the films while also being the saddest and most heart-wrenching. It's a truly dark movie, and I really, really liked that.
This is also an intense thriller. Since this Ghostface is the most brutal, you feel the danger the most. It's a nerve-wracking ride of intensity from beginning to end. None of the characters feel safe. None of the places they're in feel safe. It always seems like Ghostface is lurking right around the corner, which just makes this film more involving and more thrilling.
But the film also finds a way to still inject the meta-ness into the movie. They have the classic "rules" scene that has become a staple of the franchise, but they do some different meta things in here that I really enjoyed. The train sequence that has been heavily marketed in the trailer has tons of horror easter eggs. The opening sequence is unlike any other Scream opening that we've seen. It makes some clever changes that I really, really dug.
The movie also feels like a true legacy sequel that connects back to every movie in the franchise. The Scream movies have always referenced the fictional Stab franchise (which acts as an in-universe representation of the Scream movies), but they don't really do that here. Instead, the film connects back to the actual movies that we've seen before and references certain things that have happened in the other films.
And, just in case you were wondering, the film entirely works without Sidney Prescott. If you don't know, Neve Campbell didn't return for this film because the studio couldn't work out a contract with her. She is Sidney, so if she doesn't feel like she's being paid enough, of course she shouldn't come back. I hope she does eventually, but her absence isn't felt in this movie. Her character isn't in it for a reason that they explain that makes total sense. She doesn't fit in to this story and she isn't needed.
This also feels like the biggest Scream film. The other films are all set in one location. Woodsboro. A college campus. A film set. Scream VI takes Ghostface to New York, which, shockingly, is much bigger than Woodsboro. This makes the movie just feel bigger and higher stakes. And that gives it more weight, which, in turn, makes you care about the characters more, so whenever one of them dies, you feel it. The Scream franchise doesn't need to be the small-scale suburban slasher that it usually is. Setting it in a big city and raising the scope and stakes makes for a welcome change.
One of my favorite parts of Scream 5 was the decision to make Sam Carpenter the daughter of Billy Loomis. And they build on that in Scream VI. It defines Sam's character in this movie and gives her a very interesting arc. It also allows for her to have some awesome moments that come directly from Billy. When you watch the movie, you'll understand what I mean.
I think Scream VI is a slight step down from Scream 5. Scream 5 (actually called Scream but it gets confusing so I'm calling it Scream 5) is my second favorite of the franchise, so that's a pretty high bar.
The film actually starts off pretty slow. We get the opening scene (which I'm not quite sure how I feel about yet) and then we start catching up with our characters. There's a good twenty minutes without Ghostface in the beginning. It's just a bucketload of exposition that starts to drag until our characters find out that Ghostface is back. It immediately gets better, but it does take a second to get going.
While I do like that this is a darker, more brutal Scream film, it felt like the film sometimes wanted to add melodrama to make this movie darker. A lot of the characters are struggling with their mental health and their relationships due to the Ghostface attacks, but instead of that coming out naturally in their character arcs, they usually just say how they're feeling. And it feels melodramatic instead of raw and realistic.
I also felt like there were some significant lapses in logic. As the trailers have shown, there's a major set piece in the film that acts as a Ghostface "shrine". In that shrine, there's a bunch of things from the other movies: Ghostface costumes, knives, and other objects used in the previous five films. It's like a Scream museum. But it doesn't make any sense how someone made this museum. They try to provide explanation for it, but it doesn't really work, and it just leaves you trying to suspend too much disbelief.
On that same note, there are a lot of fakeout deaths in this movie. There are a lot of real deaths, too, but there are characters who will get stabbed twenty times, you think they are dead, and then a paramedic says "There's a weak pulse." For me, that was frustrating. If you do that once in a Scream movie, that's okay. If you do that three or four times, it gets annoying.
Final Thoughts and Score
Scream VI is a great continuation of the series. It has more gore, actual horror, and the most intense stakes yet. There are problems, but this is another solid Scream.
I will go Savory here. Age range is 14+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad)
Fun Factor: 9/10 Acting: 7.5/10
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Rated R for strong bloody violence, frightening themes and images, language, suggestive material, thematic elements
Released on March 10, 2023
2 hours and 2 minutes
Melissa Barrera as Samantha Carpenter
Jenna Ortega as Tara Carpenter
Jasmin Savoy-Brown as Mindy Meeks-Martin
Mason Gooding as Chad Meeks-Martin
Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers
Hayden Panettiere as Kirby Reed
Dermot Mulroney as Detective Bailey
Devyn Nekoda as Anika Kayoko
Josh Segarra as Danny Brackett
Jack Champion as Ethan Landry
Liana Liberato as Quinn Bailey
Tony Revolori as Jason Carvey
Samara Weaving as Laura Crane
Henry Czerny as Christopher Stone
Roger L. Jackson as Ghostface